Tuesday, Nov 29th

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Ruth 3

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Verses 1-5

  1. Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?

  2. And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor.

  3. Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.

  4. And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.

  5. And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.

Naomi sees an opportunity and seizes it quickly! Like a typical mother (for that is how she was with Ruth), she wanted to guide Ruth towards a new husband – and who better than her relative, wealthy, powerful Boaz? I see no malice or deception going on here, just an older woman seeking to help her daughter-in-law to find happiness and security where otherwise there might be none. In those days a lone woman had a very hard time finding work and then trying to just live. It was even harder for a widow to find another husband.

Naomi said she wanted Ruth to rest from her work, so she could be refreshed for the next day. In reality she wanted Ruth to cease from her hard work in the fields by ‘marrying well’. So, she devised a plan… Ruth should go down to the field where Boaz would be winnowing barley through the evening. Winnowing, zarah, was a method to separate corn from the chaff. If there was a wind, that would do it: the grain would be picked up by a large shovel or basket and thrown up into the air. The wind would cause the lighter chaff to blow away, leaving the heavier grain to fall into a pile. But, when there was no wind, which was most likely at the end of a hot day, they used large fans to create a breeze.

Naomi advised Ruth to have a good wash, to remove the dust of the working day, put on fresh clothes, and use perfume, all so she would appeal to the unmarried Boaz. Probably, neither had much, but at least they could clean their clothing. She was then to go to the field and wait for Boaz to finish his work, and then eat and drink. But, Ruth should not show herself to him. Ruth agreed to the plan.

The plan was to wait until he went to lay down in the field (as they did at that time, to be ready for the next day). Then, she would quietly lay at his feet, after placing the end of his outer garment over her. This is what is meant (in this text) by ‘uncover his feet’, galah=uncover. The term can be used to describe making someone naked, but it is not the meaning in this text. The word for ‘feet’, margelah, has a specific meaning – the place of the feet, or just ‘feet’, which verifies that she merely used the lower part of the garment that covered his feet. Anything else would be improper and immoral. An apposite text is 1 Samuel 24:3, “And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.”

This occurred when Saul was chasing David and his 400 followers. He went into the cave to “cover his feet”. This has two main meanings (there are a few more) – one is to use the cave as a toilet. The other is to lay down and go to sleep. As I show in my Bible study on this chapter, it could only mean to go to sleep.

Naomi said that when he awoke, Boaz would tell Ruth what to do (revealing his true feelings for her). Ruth agreed with Naomi. I do not see this as immoral or unethical. It is how couples come together, often by indications from one or both that there was the promise of a future relationship. It was, though, still a risk. However, by only placing a part of Boaz’s cloak over her, Ruth was not denuding him, so her actions could not be called salacious or sexually provocative. Today, even Christian relationships often begin with sexuality of some kind, which is a shame and a sin.

Verses 6-9

  1. And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her.

  2. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.

  3. And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.

  4. And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.

Ruth made her way to the fields and waited on her own until Boaz had eaten and had drink, feeling comfortable and filled (“merry”). He went to a pile of corn sheaves and lay down to sleep. Ruth quietly approached and lay at his feet, without making a sound or saying anything. At midnight, Boaz stirred a while and realised someone was close to him. His first reaction was that of fear, but he then saw it was a woman.

Boaz asked who she was, and she said ‘I am Ruth, your servant’. She added, ‘You are my family, so please cover me again with your skirt.’ The word ‘skirt’, kanaph, means the border or corner of his outer garment. There are other meanings that don’t apply in this text.

Verses 10-13

  1. And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.

  2. And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.

  3. And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.

  4. Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning.

Though still alarmed, Boaz was kind to Ruth, praising her purity and for not going after men of any age. Rather, she was demure, a quality rarely seen in our modern world. Boaz blessed her for this. It appears that Boaz understood Ruth’s intention – to gain his attention. Or, she told him her desire to find an husband. This explains his words in verse 11 and 12. He said everyone in Bethlehem knew she was a righteous woman, and deserved to find someone to marry. However, he honestly told her that while he was a “near kinsman” he was not the closest; even though it appears he was interested in her himself. Someone else he knew was closer in kin. That is, to Naomi and thus, by reason of Naomi’s dead son, to Ruth.

Boaz suggested Ruth should remain asleep on the corn until morning. He would then go to the city gate and talk with the next of kin. If the next of kin did not wish to marry, then he, Boaz, would offer himself as husband. This was not as quick a decision as you might think – he had information on her from the start, had watched her working, and mused on her as a person; we need not doubt he was attracted to her. His main concern, we should note, was not her beauty (assumed), but her character and devotion to God. This should always be the first concern when looking for a marriage mate. For now, he advised, just go to sleep. Note how there was nothing sensual going on! Everything was above board and pure.

Verses 14-18

  1. And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor.

  2. Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city.

  3. And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her.

  4. And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law.

  5. Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.

The two went back to sleep. Ruth awoke early and left the field before anyone could see her, to avoid rumours. Her early departure was agreeable to Boaz. Before Ruth left, Boaz told her to hold out her veil. He then put six measures of barley grain into it and tied it to her back, to carry home. The actual measure size is unknown but probably equalled the usual-sized scoops.

Back home Naomi asked how the evening went and Ruth gave her the details. Both must have been very excited, that Ruth may at last gain a husband. Naomi at least hoped it would be Boaz.

Naomi advised Ruth to just sit and wait in the house, to see how Boaz would bring the matter to an end. He had promised an answer that day, so Ruth waited, pensive and full of hope. We cannot doubt that God had planned what would happen, so that Ruth and Boaz became the legitimate ancestors to David – and not just him, but Jesus Christ, too.


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